By Debra Ferrell, Caswell County Messenger
The Class of 2023 at Bartlett Yancey Senior High School held its graduation ceremony on Saturday morning, June 10, 2023, under sunny skies on the football field. Bleachers were packed with happy family members and friends cheering on the graduates for their successful completion of 13 years of good times and bad times on the way to earning diplomas allowing them to move on to the next chapter of their lives.
A number of leaders were there to support the class including Mel Battle, Vennie Beggarly, Joel Lillard, Gladys Garland, and Trudy Blackwell from Caswell County Schools Board of Education and Frank Rose and Jeremiah Jefferies from Caswell County Board of Commissioners.
Principal Lance Stokes explained that Interim Superintendent Dr. Douglass Barker couldn’t be there, but sent well wishes.
Officials and the graduates presented a moving program full of thanks and praise to families, educators, and classmates who all worked together to get them to this stage in their young lives.
Student Council Vice President Paris Cole declared it to be a major celebration after a long haul of hard work. “I’m proud of this class!” She talked about how this is the end of an era for the class as they begin a new chapter in their lives. “We must never forget the lessons we’ve learned at Bartlett Yancey. It pushed us to be our very best.”
Student Council Treasurer Alyssa Watlington introduced special guests on stage including Board of Education members, Dr. Pamela G. Senegal, President of Piedmont Community College, and Dr. Carla Murray, Assistant Superintendent.
During his address, Principal Stokes told the class the day they had anticipated had finally arrived. “This diploma is your ticket to more opportunities in life.” He urged them to keep their passion and intensity in all they do and appreciate those who had helped them get here.
Adapting to what life throws at you and learning from mistakes is a normal part of life. “Appreciate the small things. Put that phone down!”
He continued, “Be thankful each day because it’s an opportunity to be proud of what you accomplished. Let success be the ‘normal’ because great things can come from Caswell County.”
Class member Natalie Simmons urged the class to celebrate this important milestone. She expressed gratitude for the remodeled school that allows students to get from one area to another much quicker and easier.
She talked about how everything changed in 2020 when so much shut down or changed because of COVID-19. “It helped us grow and be grateful for school. We can benefit from the good and bad. I am here for all of you…congratulations!”
Student Council Secretary Kelsie Hooper reminded them how they would not be here if it wasn’t for parents and guardians investing in them. “We’re a product of their love and support. Let’s be thankful for these wonderful times.”
Class member Emma Mitchell talked about how fast the 13 years of school had gone by. “We learned valuable skills to apply to our lives. We’ve faced every obstacle and continue to persevere. Take pride in how far we’ve come.”
Student Council President Tayana Bradsher spoke of how the moment was bittersweet now that it’s here. Senior year was the only normal year they had (thanks to COVID) when they could be regular high school teenagers. She reminded them that growing up is about small changes and they must “grasp every opportunity and spread their wings and soar as they embrace challenges and say farewell to each other and embark on new adventures.”
She thanked the educators and pointed out that classmate Joshua Rone will not be forgotten. Rone should have graduated this year, but he was tragically killed on September 18, 2021, at the Danville fairgrounds. (His family came on stage when his name was called to receive his diploma).
After all of the high school diplomas had been presented, Dr. Pamela G. Senegal from Piedmont Community College shared some information about how much money the dual enrollment program had saved for families as it allowed students to earn an Associate Degree while attending high school.
“This head start will save thousands of dollars for families. Thank you for letting us be your hometown college.”